tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 8, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm EST
when his favorability rating started to fall. and there was a "des moines register" poll where they went back and asked some people, and they were troubled by the allegations. as long as there's some movement in the wrong direction for his support among his core supporters, he's got to come out and address this, if he really wants to move on. >> let me go to gene robinson. gene, it seems to me, it's going to be a he said/she said situation within a matter of minutes now. the question is, how does he believe that he can simply said, as he said today, i don't remember any of it, i don't remember her as human being? >> i don't -- see, the problem, chris, is it's not just he said/she said, it's he said/they said. as you now have several women who have made allegations of sexual harassment, apparently not going as far as miss bialek's accusations of physical touching in a very inappropriate way. nevertheless, one of the
accusers with whom there's a settlement is now slowly coming out publicly and says she might talk about this some more. he really has to deal with the totality of this behavior and try to convince people, and i'll use a colloquialism here, but that he doesn't act like a pig with women. >> but can he just say today, i'm only going to address people by name unless a person makes a charge in public. i'm not going to dignify the charge until they come forward. in other words, just pick his target today and say, sharon bialek is my accuser, i'm only going to deal with her? >> he can try, but i think the larger issue is there. the larger question is there. and i don't see how he can expect to get back on track until he answers it. >> cynthia, if he goes to war with this government -- basically, the star witness against him now, sharon bialek, does this become an issue where he has to almost discredit her as a person to win his presumed innocence back? >> well, he's already started trying to discredit her.
what else can he do? if he denies that this happened, then he's calling her a liar. so he has to try to destroy her credibility if he wants people to believe that a woman would stand before the cameras, give a very detailed account of behavior, that in my view goes beyond sexual harassment. what bialek alleged was sexual assault. >> that's what i agree. >> or sexual battery. if he is to deny that that took place, then he has no choice but to try to destroy her credibility. if, you know, i was skeptical about her when i heard that she would be appearing with gloria allred, for heaven's sakes, who never saw a camera that she didn't want to address. but bialek seemed very credible to me. and if it's true that she
doesn't want any money, she's not suing anybody, that she's not trying to sell her story, if that's true, she's even more credible. so herman cain has no choice, really, than to try to talk about her as somebody who's irresponsible, who's been a party to several lawsuits in the past. >> chris, can i make another point, it's david here. >> sure, david. >> this is a fragile front-runner. this is not a durable candidate in the race for the presidency. this is someone who's capitalized on tea party support, on anti-establishment support, who has somehow risen to the top of the pack because conservatives have problems with mitt romney. and is now being so completely derailed, get away from talking about the very thing that got him attention, which was his tax plan. and all of his anti-establishment views. it's obscuring the fact that there were other deficiencies like foreign policy acumen or even basic knowledge. >> i understand that. but where do they go? it seemed to be you used a very
good phrase, they tend to be doubling down on this guy now, david. where does that leave the people who just can't see romney, they see him as a moderate? >> i've talked to other people in the race who are of the view that they don't attack cain, but they wait for his supporters to reluctantly come to the view that he's unelectable. so they wait him out. they don't attack him, because that's not going to be looked upon favorably here. the reality is, look who's third in our poll? it's newt gingrich. i don't know whether michele bachmann catches fire, but rick perry at least has the money, even though he had a poor showing in our poll to climb back into this race as an anti-romney candidate. but if herman cain -- i mean, you heard haley barbour on the program sunday. bill bennett saying, you know, look, we can't blame the media when we led the charge against bill clinton for sexual impropriety, he's got to answer these questions, he's got to come clean about all of this. these are the challenges he faces. >> okay. here is herman cain. and this is going to be a very dramatic press conference.
>> i've been practicing law in georgia for a little over 34 years and i have had the opportunity in my practice of law to represent female victims of sexual harassment. serious legitimate claims of sexual harassment are not settled for nuisance value. i have also had the opportunity in my law practice to represent victims of sexual assault. when they have come to my law office, i did not take them out and parade them in front of the cameras in a national press conference, and then arrange for them to go on a campaign with the media to give one interview after another after another.
they resolved their claims in a court of law. i have also had the privilege to represent a number of innocent victims accused by the media of serious crimes, false accusations, where those individuals found themselves on trial in the court of public opinion. on trial in the court of public opinion, where there are no rules, the rules are made up by the media. there are no procedures designed to safeguard the integrity of the process, to ensure that a fair and a just result is
achieved. herman cain finds himself ov, o the course of the last several days, now on trial in the court of public opinion. falsely accused. first by anonymous sources and now, yesterday, by sharon bialek, who chose to come forward, for whatever reason, after 14 years, when recollections have faded, witnesses cannot be located, to for the first time, for the first time in 14 years, to tell
her story to a third person, for the first time. and now herman cain in the court of public opinion has to respond not to admissible evidence, he has to respond to hearsay, he has to respond to rumors and speculation. he's not afforded the opportunity for me to cross-examine his accusers. he's not afforded the safeguards that are part of our system of justice. but he comes before you today to defend his reputation. a reputation that he has built over 40 years of being a good
and decent man and a successful business person. i ask that you at least afford him fairness and that you view his efforts to defend his reputation and his good name by maintaining your common sense and remembering your own life's experience to decide whether or not a story that is so inherently improbable on its face should be utilized by others with their own agendas to attack this man's reputation. it's my privilege to represent him and my privilege to step aside from this podium and let you hear from him, herman cain. >> thank you, lin.
good afternoon. i am herman cain and i'm running for president of the united states of america. i normally don't have notes, but in this case, i wanted to make sure that i didn't miss any points that i needed to cover today. secondly, i chose to address these accusations direct ly rather than try to do it through a series of continuous statements or spokespeople. because that's the person herman cain is. is to take my message directly to the people. with respect to the most recent
accusation, i have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period! i saw miss allred and her client yesterday in that news conference for the very first time. as i sat in my hotel room with a couple of my staff members, as they got to the microphone, my first response in my mind and reaction was, i don't even know who this woman is. secondly, i didn't recognize the name at all. the time that she referenced was during the time that i was the ceo and president of the national restaurant association. it's headquartered in
washington, d.c., where about 150 workers work, and we have about 150 people in chicago, where she said she worked for our educational foundation. i tried to remember if i recognized her and i didn't. i tried to remember if i remembered that name, and i didn't. the charges and the accusations i absolutely reject. they simply didn't happen. they simply did not happen. you know, for decades, the american people have wanted a businessman in the white house and not just another politician. because for decades, all the politicians have been doing is just kicking the can down the
road, trim a little bit here, trim a little bit there. when america's biggest problems simply got worse. well, a businessman by the name of herman cain stepped forward. here i am. but i know from the american people that i have talked with and spoken with over the past several months, we are not going to allow washington or politics to deny me the opportunity to represent this great nation. and as far as these accusations causing me to back off and maybe withdraw from this presidential primary race ain't going to happen. because i'm doing this for the american people and for their children and for their
grandchildren. and i will not be deterred by false, anonymous, incorrect accusations. america believes that washington is broken. america believes that our system of getting elected is broken. in part, it is. but in another part, it's not. as long as we have decency and honesty in the electoral process, it will work. but when we allow deceit and false accusations to rule the day and distract us, that part is broken. nine days ago, the media started to beat me up covering anonymous accusers and then yesterday, another accuser came forth, identified herself, went on tv,
and made some other allegations. was it tough last week? yes. has it been tough the last couple of days? yes. but you see, that's one thing about herman cain that i think that a lot of the american people know, and that is, just because it's tough, there's no reason for me not to do what i feel like i have to do. and because of what the american people have said to me during these turbulent times, we will get through this. we will get through this. the fact is, these anonymous allegations are false and now the democrat machine in america has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations, statements, many of which exceed common sense. and they certainly exceed the standards of decency in america.
i have been married for 43 years to my wife, gloria. 43 years i've been married to my wife. after watching that press conference yesterday, i called her and i said, sweetheart, did you see it? she said, yes. i said, what did you think? and my wife said, and this is a direct quote, "i have known you for 46 years," because we were engaged for two years, "that doesn't even sound like anything you would do to anyone." sexual harassment allegations are serious. and respect for women and all people that i have worked with or people who have worked for me over the years has been a top priority with respect to me.
now, my family fully supports my candidacy, and they know the man that i am. they've been with me all of their lives, my kids. they know who i am. they know the man that i am. however, i ask that the media not drag my family into this. they are not running for president. some members of your profession have even stalked my family members. calling members of my family and extended family members. i ask you as professionals to direct your questions, your criticisms towards me, not my family. my reputation is something that i've worked over 40 years to build up. i have managed many entities,
many companies. i have managed organizations with thousands and thousands and thousands of employees and now that i'm running for the highest office in the land -- anonymous, some not so anonymous, are now coming to light. this is not a surprise. it was expected. but i will vigorously defend my reputation, because i will not allow false accusations to compromise or in any way shed badly on any character and my integrity. and this is why i've decided to address these issues directly and forthrightly. i will repeat. i have never acted
inappropriately with anyone, period. and these accusations that were revealed yesterday are simply did not happen. we are going to take some questions. j.d. gordon, my communications vice president, we will take a few questions. >> when you ask your question, please state your name and your media agency, please. >> and please use the microphone. >> mr. cain, steve fudderman with cbs news. i would like to ask you a two-part question. first of all, do you think it's important for a candidate's character to come under a microscope in a campaign? and secondly, you are basically now in a he said/she said situation. she's saying something, you're saying something. they're both diametrically opposing each other.
would you be willing to take a lie detector test in this case? >> i absolutely would, but i'm not going to do that unless i have a good reason to do this. that's one of the first comments i made. of course i would be willing to do a dlie detector test. secondly, i believe that the candidate and character and integrity of a candidate should come under the microscope, with facts, not accusations. >> tim gainer, reuters news agency. mr. cain, a poll released this afternoon showed that 40% of republican voters view you less favorably after seeing monday's accusations from sharon bialek. given that reaction, how can you convince nonsupporters to vote for you? >> well, first of all, you don't need 100% of the voters, you feed 51%. it is natural that some voters would be turned off by the mere
mention of the accusations. that's normal and that's expected. and all you have to do is to look at campaigns historically, and you are able to identify those situations where some members of the public, some of the voting electorate are going to be influenced by the court of public opinion in formulating their impression. but the good news for me and my campaign is that most of my supporters have not reacted to this in terms of belief. many of them have expressed their outpouring support for the fact that these incidents simply did not happen. so rebuilding the trust on the part of some people, yes, that would be a challenge. but i want to continue to represent those that have chose t en to support me and those that are willing to look at the facts and not hearsay.
>> hi, mr. cain. it's robin from the "l.a. times." yesterday you called these charges insignificant stuff. i think everyone who's ever worked in a restaurant environment knows that sexual harassment can be very commonplace. my question to you is, do you believe sexual harassment is real? have you ever seen it? what did you see? and how did you deal with it? >> let me reiterate that sexual harassment is a very serious charge. in no way have i tried to minimize sexual harassment in the workplace. having led many organizations, yes, i have seen instances where it could be interpreted as sexual harassment. and if i saw it, and if it were an employee or a direct report of mine, i dealt with it immediately, before the other
person perceived it as an infringement of their privacy. and i might add, it's not just men who potentially sexually harass women. i've always seen situations where women have attempted to sexually harass men. it's very serious. and i have made sure that that wasn't something that was tolerated in any organization that i was responsible for. >> jonathan carl with abc news. >> yes. >> mr. cain, now another woman, one of the formerly anonymous woman has come forward, who worked with you at the restaurant association, karen crasshaur. she's now a spokesperson for the treasury department and has come forward publicly. what do you say to her or her allegations? this is somebody who is still working in the u.s. government. are her allegations not true? is she lying about them? >> well, to the best of my recollection, since you
mentioned that particular name, that is the one that i recall that filed a complaint, but it was found to be baseless. let's separate something. the accusations were made of sexual harassment. they were found baseless. there was no legal settlement. there was an agreement between that lady and the national restaurant association, and it was treated as a personnel matter because there was no basis to her accusations. those are the facts. [ inaudible question ] >> when she made her -- when she made her accusations, they were found to be baseless and she could not find anyone to corroborate her story. the restaurant association handled it. they went through a process to get to the point where it ended
up being an agreement, not a settlement. now, let me clarify that little point. i've been criticized by some members of the media that i have changed my story. when the firestorm started a week ago monday, i was presented with the accusation of some settlement was made. settlement, to me, means that there were legal implications. later during that same day, i then recalled, after all those years, that there was an agreement. that's what businesses sign with employees who are departing the company. they call it an agreement. settlement implies legal implications. all of the potential legal implications or ramifications or accusations were found to be baseless. >> "wall street journal." still, mr. cain, there are now a total of four women who have accused you of some form of sexual harassment. how do you explain that?
are they making it up? is that plausible? can you explain where you think this is coming from? thank you. >> well, i happen to think where it's coming from is that some people don't want to see herman cain get the republican nomination and some people don't want herman cain to become president of the united states of america. as you know, when you run for the highest office in the land, they are going to be some accusations that are going to come out of the woodwork. they're going to come from anywhere. and i have said this before. there will probably be others, not because i am aware of any, but because the machine to keep a businessman out of the white house is going to be relentless. and if they continue to come, i will continue to respond. i can't answer why the ones that have already made these one anonymous accusations and one
that was, you know, put their face on tv, started a media campaign, to basically try and slander my integrity and my character, i can't tell you what their motivation is, other than it's to stop herman cain. i believe that the american people are saying that they're not going to let that happen. >> steve kraft, fox 10 news here in phoenix. mitt romney has been quoted as saying he finds these accusations to be disturbing. can you react to that observation by mr. romney and tell us what you think is behind it? >> sure. sexual harassment is a very serious matter, as i've said. i find the accusations disturbing. but false! i don't believe governor romney was saying that he thought i was guilty of any of these accusations. but, yes, they're disturbing. because they distract from
taking our message to the american people, talking about solutions. they zrak from the whole republican primary process. so he's right. but i don't think he was saying that i was disturbing because i've been accused. i believe that he was saying, because i know mitt romney and his integrity, that he was referring to the fact that it was disturbing that these accusations that are not factually based are disturbing to this process. >> mr. cain, lee ross with fox news. you made several mentions of the democratic machine. who are these people? who is involved in this? is it a conspiracy? >> i cannot -- i cannot say that it is a conspiracy. we do not have definitive factual proof. we can only look at some coincidences to suggest it that
maybe someone is deliberate by behind this. we have not been able to point any deliberation or point any fingers or place any blame on anybody at this point. when we step back and look at the fact that there's no facts, no factual evidence to back this up, we can only infer that someone is trying to basically wreck my character and like the other gentleman alluded to, plant doubt in the minds of a lot of people who are going to go to the polls and vote. >> mr. cain, andrew rafferty, nbc news. i'm just curious, what role do you think sharon bialek's past financial troubles play in her allegations against you? >> she claims that her past financial situation, the number of civil lawsuits she's been involved in, she claims that it does not play a role in her coming forward. i can't respond any further than
that. that's her claim. but from a common sense standpoint, one would have to ask if, in fact, that might not have been a motivation for her being subjected to this. >> hi, mr. cain. tracy with cnn. in terms of the other case that was found baseless from that accuser, who found it to be baseless? and if so, why was she paid tens of thousands of dollars? >> well, i'm not sure of the tens of thousands of dollars figure that you're referring to, so i'm not going to get caught in that trap. it was negotiations between -- i'm only referring to the one lady that actually filed charges. okay? that's the only one i can respond to. she got an attorney and she and her negotiated and talked with the attorney for the national restaurant association. i can't even remember if we got outside counsel in this case. i think we probably did.
so it was a situation where they worked back and forth, and they came to the conclusion that it should end with some sort of personnel separation agreement. [ inaudible question ] she worked at the restaurant association for a period of time. i do recall that before i left the restaurant association, she was in the process of leaving the association. i didn't have regular interaction, although periodically, i would see her. and since she reported to my vice president, one of my vice presidents, when we would have a planning meeting, she would attend a planning meeting, because typically when i would do a planning meeting, i would not only bring in my direct reports, i'd bring in the next level down. she was at that next level down. so that was the interaction, in terms of me seeing her on a regular basis. during that particular period of time, because i was the
president of the national restaurant association, today it has over 14 million people, working in the industry. you know, thousands and thousands and thousands of restaurants -- i spent most of my time traveling and giving speeches around the country to state restaurant association as as well as other speeches that i needed to give. i was not in the office a lot. i was out in the field more than i was in the office. >> mr. cain, hi, lindsay with cbs news and "national journal." you said again today that it's been so many years and you later recalled that there was a financial agreement that you didn't originally remember. now you say you don't remember sharon bialek, yesterday was the first time that you've seen her. is there a possibility that it's just been too many years and you could recall some specific details later? >> that's a possibility, but i think it's a remote possibility, you know? i'm not an expert on how the brain works, but i do know that i sat there and went over and over and over and over in my mind, do i know this lady? the answer kept coming up, no. i watched her again today, when
she appeared on fox news with her attorney during this interview, sitting there, trying to remember, do i know her? i didn't recognize the face, i didn't recognize the name, nor the voice. and so you're right. is that a possibility? yes. but i happen to think that's a remote possibility. and here's why. one of the things that people i have worked with for years will tell you, i'm pretty good at remembering people. especially people who have had a positive impact in my life or a positive impact on my business, i'm pretty good at remembering people i have met, who have made some sort of impression on me. so in this particular case, i seriously doubt if i'm going to have an aha moment later and say, oh, yeah, i remember that. i just don't think that's going to happen. >> mark clasy with "the new york time times". karen crowshar, who just spoke to our newspaper within the last hour, can you tell us what she
accused you of specifically and what your interactions with her were? you came close to answering that, but you stopped. this is your press conference where you're going to level with us and tell us what happened. so tell us what she accused you of and tell us what really happened. this is your chance. thank you. >> well, i can only recall one thing that i was aware of that was called sexual harassment. the one thing that i remember that i remembered during the day when all of this broke loose is that one day, in my office at the national restaurant association, i was standing next to miss crowshar, and i gestured, standing near her, like this, you're the same height as my wife, because my wife comes up to my chin. that was the one gesture that i
remember. the door was open. my secretary was sitting there. it wasn't anything behind closed doors. i gestured because of her height, comparing it to my wife's height. end of story. other things that might have been in the accusations, i'm not even aware of, i don't remember. that one i remember, because that was the one that my general counsel came to me and said, the one that appears to be the one that she was most upset about was that. so i really can't tell you anymore, because i don't recall it anymore, and that's the only one i remember. she did not react at the time. absolutely did not react at the time. let me say this, folks, in closing, thank you for your patience. thank you for us having an opportunity to share my perspective on this. this nation faces tremendous cris crisis. i would hope that we could get
back to sharing with the american people solutions to the problems that we face. we're not going to allow ourselves to continuously be distracted by these sort of incidents. i will respond to them, but we cannot slow this campaign down when we need to be dealing with our economic crisis, our spending crisis, our energy crisis, our foggy foreign policy crisis, illegal immigration crisis, and a crisis of leadership in the white house in washington, d.c. that's what i'm going to continue to focus on, on behalf of the american people, not for me, but for the grandkids. thank you all very much for your attendance. is. let's bring in our pam right now, david gregory, moderator of meet t"meet the press." cynthia tucker is a visiting
professor at the university of georgia. msnbc political analyst and "the huffington post's" howard fineman joins us now. and t"the washington post" columnist, dana milbank. i should say at the beginning here, ladies and gentlemen, the man who joined us earlier tonight in introducing herman cain was lin wood, who's an attorney, a very prominent one, based down in atlanta. he has represented former congressman gary condit, he's defended the woman in the kobe bryant case, the notorious case involving that, and he's also represented richard jewel, the security guard falsely accused of planting a bomb down a the 1996 olympics down in atlanta. david gregory, i guess the key line is, "i don't even know who this woman is," remains at the heart of this story. either he's telling the truth with his memory as it is or she's telling the truth. it seems to me hard to believe -- well, let's leave it open to you. this open question now. who's telling the truth? >> well, you raised this before we had the press conference.
she's made an accusation, he's denied it. denied even knowing her. said he's never acted inappropriately. said that previous accusations against him were the basis of an agreement or a settlement with the national restaurant association had no merit, had no basis. sexual harassment is a very difficult thing to prove. i mean, you talk about witnesses. it's not like this is often done with a committee around you. and that's part of the problem here. but i think what's striking about this, chris, is that, and that's pretty striking in and of itself. but he went beyond that. i mean, he is now, after first blaming the perry campaign for leaking this. then blaming the media for somehow being involved in a witch hunt. now he's accusing the democratic machine of bringing forth a troubled woman, his words, to make false accusations against him. and as he's done in other instances, whether it was talking about people that occupy
wall street, he doesn't have any facts to back that up, but that's part of the overall story line, the narrative that he wants americans to accept. >> gene, he also began to plant a narrative, reminding us, i didn't even know about this, that this woman, sharon bialek, the woman who's accused of a really gross, you could even call it sexual assault, in the car that day, apparently, the way she describes it. she mentioned the fact that she had other civil suits and financial problems and suggested that may have contributed to her accusation. he's basically impeaching her as a witness. but calling her a troubled woman, really impeaching her as if he's an attorney in a courtroom. i go back to this denial. it's so total. "i don't even know who this woman is." >> yeah. that had better be true. because if it's not, somebody's going to come up with a picture of him and her or somebody's going to remember an interaction between him and her, and there
you're going to have it. calling her a troubled woman, i think, was, you know, my personal opinion, ill advised. i don't think he had to go there. as far as this being some sort of democrat -- democratic party conspiracy, most professionals in the democratic party i know would love for herman cain to be the nominee of the republican party. >> that's fair enough. >> and are probably trying to squelch this story. and there was a question that he didn't answer. he kind of pointedly didn't answer about the accuser with whom there's a settlement, with the national restaurant association. he said that her complaint was found baseless. and he was asked, by whom? what are these findings? he just -- that just blew right past him. he would not engage with that question. it's going to be asked again. >> well, "the new york times" -- >> by the way, chris -- >> go ahead.
>> he said he didn't recall dish mean, he could have found out. i mean, that's a knowable fact, when it was the basis of an agreement, he could have gone back and been able to answer mark lacy's questions from "the times," which is, you know, what happened? what was your version? and what did they actually conclude to the on the that they gave her some kind of financial statement? >> and the fact is, david, karen crashhour, reporting late today, she is going to go public fairly soon, herself, like the other witness here. let me go to cynthia on this one. cynthia, we all heard the same thing. this is classic. i'm not denigrating him, but he is interesting to try to keep track of, herman cain. did he or did he not admit or agree to taking a lie detector test? it's hard to parse his sentence. >> excellent question! it's much like the answer he gave not long ago on abortion. where he said he's pro-life, but it's up to the individual. at first he said, i would absolutely take a lie detector
test! and then he said, only if there were a good reason for me to do so. well, i can't imagine that there would be a better reason for him to do so than now. let me also say that i was struck by the tone of his response. i was expecting a much more pointed, perhaps more emotional complete denial of these charges from a man who says he's innocent. i'm thinking of men i know. if they were charged -- if a woman came forward in the middle of a presidential campaign, a woman they had never seen before, never laid hands on, and made charges that are very damaging and very troubling, it seems to me that most men i know would have a response that was much more pointed, that said, i absolutely did nothing of the sort! and he said he didn't do it, but
it was a more muted emotional response than i expected from him. i also have to say that david is absolutely right. if he wanted to put these charges to rest, he would go to the national restaurant association and say, let me see the files. so that i can have a comprehensive response to all the questions. and he hasn't done that. >> and can i -- one more thing, chris. the important thing about miss crashour, she's actually now talking about going forward because she thinks it's important to present a front, soto have several women, and what she called in "the times" piece, a body of evidence, that could stand up to what he's saying. that's very interesting and will have some people weighing this very carefully. what he's saying, what they're saying. but the idea that there would be several of them that would be willing, in a couple of cases, to no longer be anonymous, despite initially wanting to before their name was leaked to the press, to present some consistent stories.
>> howard, let me ask you about the political context and which direction. we know this is going to continue to be a perry mason kind of detective story, what actually happened in these cases. that's one of the stories here. the political direction of the story. he seems to have a confidence beyond anything i've seen in politics. if he even has a smidgen of guilt in these cases, he doesn't show. if he even has a smidgen of impairme embarrassment, he doesn't show it. he comes off with the confidence of man who is absolutely innocent of any offense in any time in his life. he is a perfect man, as he describes it. this self-confidence, how far will it carry him with the portion of the republican party he very clearly today stated he was interested in. he doesn't want the doubting thomases. he wants the true believers. can he hold him? >> let me make a legal comment. lin wood who introduced him there is famous for attacking the media, for threatening lawsuits, for threatening libel suits, for threatening the media with reckless disregard of the truth. >> okay. >> he was the dog that didn't
bark today. yes, he introduced herman cain, but he made no threats. so, yes, herman cain thinks he can do it based on his personality. i think you have to look at it state by state. in iowa, at some point, evangelical christians who are key in that state where he's running neck and neck with mitt romney may ask questions, especially after actual people came forward, women came forward, and it wasn't just a matter of the media attacking herman cain. in the south, if he gets that far, there are a lot of people who might have been willing to vote for herman cain. in the bible lebelt of the sout. but he had to be without reproach. if he can prove it, fine. but there are an awful lot of questions being asked here. and even though the overall numbers in the horse race, chris, have not changed after this minute, now's when we have to start looking at it state by state. this could eventually hurt him among conservative cultural voters in iowa, south carolina, and across the south on super tuesday. >> let me go to dana milbank on
this. i guess the question now is the personality of this fellow. i'm going back to that question. i watched this man now, as we all did, for a half hour here defend himself, as if he were billy bud, some perfectly innocent character out of literature. without any smidgen of embarrassment, the fact that as one of the reporters said, why would four women come out? why is there so much of this testimony against you? it didn't bother him. the man is so self-confident. >> yeah, i think the most revealing line in this whole thing is when he said, "i have never behaved inappropriately with anyone." who among us can say that? it had almost a megamaniacal feel to it. if his standard of sexual harassment is different than everybody else's, by his standard, he never did anything even if the reasonable person would feel otherwise. and he was also very revealing in saying, he doesn't really care what the larger public is saying.
he cares about the people who are supporting him right now. and that tells you a great deal about cain's strategy. it's not necessarily to win the nomination or to win the presidency. it's to be as powerful as he can with that 24% of the electorate in iowa, the tea party faithful. he's going to be a hero to that movement when he flames out, which he inevitably has to. >> what do you make of that answer? which we have to get the particulars here. he did admit his willingness to take a lie detector test. in practically the same sentence, dana, he said, i'm not going to do it, because this isn't a reason to do it. what did that sentence or combination of thoughts mean? this is where we have to get to the way the man's mind works. he is so self-confident. but is he in any credible way expressing useful truth? >> well, of course not, chris. if he wanted this to be done, there's a very easy way to do it. it's to authorize the national restaurant association to release these files. obviously, if the woman involved in the complaint or agreement or settlement or whatever it's being called is coming forth,
then that shouldn't be a problem to have that out there. that's not what this was about tonight. it was raising the level of the denials to this extraordinary sweeping claim. this really wasn't about resolving the truth. >> howard, you have to go, i hear. tell me where this story moves to now in terms of, does it go the who did it, what did he do further witness question, or does it go to the political track of, is this going to stand up in the debate tomorrow night, the cnbc debate? will it become a part of the political narrative? >> i think it will be both, but i think it will still be factual. as eugene said, he asserted flatly that he didn't know this woman. my understanding is that there is a picture or video of her greeting him at some event a month ago. i haven't seen that video, but depending on how it looks, whether he has a quizzical look like who the heck are you or whether it's somebody that he knew, we'll see soon enough. that's number one. number two, the federal employee who came forward who's talked in "the new york times" is going to be the story tonight and
tomorrow. then these two people having come forward, i think the others who have made allegations may well do so as well. there are a lot more factual things to come out. and having made the sweeping statements that he made, that just begs more factual reporting about whether he was telling the truth or whether he was telling a sweeping lie over a period of a half hour today. and as i said, his attorney, who's a past master of threatening the media didn't do that today. and i find that kind of curious. you say that herman cain was so confident. i'm not sure how totally confident he was despite the cleverly sweeping nature of what he said. >> let me go back to david on the question, has he recovered his presumption of innocence before the conservative political world, do you believe, after this performance? >> i just don't know. i mean, i think that's a very good question. but my hunch is that that's a
foundation that's beginning to crack. you have -- i even saw on twitter, michelle malkin, the conservative commentator saying that half the people she talked to among conservatives had believed the woman yesterday, miss bialek. so yesterday, ms. bialak. i think howard has it exactly right. i didn't do anything inappropriate, period if there is additional reporting it is what it is. i mean, otherwise it's very difficult. i think that theextent to which if herman cain is telling the truth if they are false allegations, allegations didn't have merit and it stands the test of time, i think he'll be strong. getting that place, though, could be very difficult when there is going to be day after day of questions, and perhaps some, you know, additional public testimony as it were about this, and people sort of
evaluating people's credibility here. remember, the -- i apologize for mispronouncing her name. 55 years old. inspector general of the treasury department, not someone who came forward, it's not like everybody is rushing to the cameras with gloria allred and that made it through the democratic machine. >> we'll see an m.o., if you will. a method. if he's accused of the same kinds of pattern of behavior by a number of people, it begins to take a pattern for most people watching, will say, yeah, why would two or three people say the same thing about something they said he did if they didn't do that? then common sense comes into play. thank you for joining us. a great panel. the rest of the panel is staying with us for more on the story. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
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first response in my mind and reaction was, i don't even know who this woman is. >> back with david gregory, eugene robinson and cynthia tucker. cynthia tucker, i want to ask you about this. this isn't a case of interpretation by the woman, staff person, and a way that she interpreted something, a behavior or words by a male staff or colleague. this is an action which would not just be inappropriate, but bad behavior in any setting, possibly criminal behavior. >> absolutely. >> strong, aggressive, sexual advance on a woman of the kind we talked about or she talked about in her testimony yesterday when they gave the press conference, talking about grabbing her head and pushing it towards his crotch, him reaching towards her genitals. the whole thing so graphic and so clear. his defense wasn't a limited modified hangout, to use watergate language. it wasn't we thought we were on a date, it was a social event.
no defense at all, except absolute, clear cut it didn't happen. >> it didn't happen. >> she didn't happen in my life, no such person ever entered my space on earth. what do you make of that defense? it's a particular, strategic decision if it's not true. if it's true, it makes perfect sense. if it's not true, it's one heck of a strategy. >> well, it shows he hasn't learned very much about how to conduct himself in a campaign. he has already been caught several times by reporters when he has said things that were clearly not true. all somebody has to do is produce a photograph or video showing him with this woman. by the way, bialek has said she approached herman cain fairly recently, sometime in the last several months, and that he looked very uncomfortable. i don't know that there's a picture of them together. but she certainly makes the claim that he saw her, and that
he recognized her. let me say, however, chris, that the flipside could also be true. if this is a powerful man, who is surrounded by women who are in positions that are much less powerful than he is. and he is constantly hitting on them or harassing them, it is certainly possible a man like that wouldn't remember the women. it's just something that is routine to him, he does it frequently, and he doesn't remember. >> let me go back to gene on this question. we almost imagine, gloria allred, being a top-rated pro in this business, especially media law, she's probably sitting with sharon bialek, what restaurant was it, what did you wear, what did he wear, what did you drink, how much did you drink, where was the car parked? she will be put in a position to
explain everything in clarity again. >> i imagine she's already done that, chris. when i first heard of the story yesterday, the first question that popped into my mind was, you know, this is a really powerful story, but did ms. bialek tell anybody about it contemporaneously, or is she just mentioning it now many years later, and as if on cue, gloria allred shows the affidavits from the boyfriend and the other person, showing she did, indeed, talk about it at that time. i imagine she's probably ahead of both of us in nailing down the specifics of ms. bialek's versions of events and we'll probably be hearing them. >> david, enter karen crashauer tomorrow. >> there was a settlement with her. he has not put all of the facts on the table about that. do you